New Monsoon has been hard at work on some new tunes. The Bay Area jam-rock band has been developing fresh songs and will be headed into the studio in May.
“The material, I’m pretty excited about it, it’s pretty eclectic,” guitarist Jeff Miller told Lake Tahoe Action. “I think what’s happened with the band is, really the chemistry that the band has, the members that we have in the band right now with the rhythm section, everyone’s intuition and the way they play together is really connected. I think the material is going to show that.”
New Monsoon will play a free show in Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room on Friday.
The group is Miller, Bo Carper (acoustic guitar, banjo), Phil Ferlino (keys), Marshall Harrell (bass) and Michael Pinkham (drums).
The band was formed in Marin County in 1997, Miller said. He, Carper and Ferlino had shared a number of musical projects while attending Penn State University together in the ‘90s. After graduating and relocating to Northern California, Miller and Carper began playing as a duo, opening for Phil Lesh once. They were soon joined by Ferlino and formed New Monsoon.
The group’s lineup and style fluctuated at first, Miller said.
“The sound of the band has changed throughout the years,” Miller said. “At one point for awhile we were actually a seven-piece band. We had percussion, we had a guy who played tabla drums, an Indian instrument, and also a full percussionist that played congas and cymbals. We were doing a world electric kind of sound, more like Santana, very eclectic.
“Now we’re a little bit more straight ahead rock, but we still have the backbone of the New Monsoon material. We play a lot of the songs that we played with the percussion and Michael actually fills out the parts pretty well, so we’re still able to cover that ground too.”
For the upcoming album, New Monsoon will record tracks at Bob Weir’s TRI Studio in San Rafael, Calif. The band is launching a fundraising campaign through the website Kickstarter to fund the album. CD’s, music downloads, T-shirts, live appearances and music lessons from band members are among the prizes available to donors. Details will be available shortly on the band’s website, Miller said.
While the band has tested some of the new songs out onstage, the upcoming album will also include material never heard by fans.
“We’re going to experiment a little bit,” Miller said. “It’s going to have the classic signature New Monsoon things where there’s some real soaring rock ’n’ roll and intricate arrangements and three-`part harmony vocals. It’s going to cover a lot of terrain as our albums typically do, but it’s going to have the New Monsoon backbone that people are familiar with.”
While the band is keeping much of the new material under wraps, concertgoers will get to hear some samples on Friday.
“People will get a taste of what they’re going to get on the record,” Miller said.
Crystal Bay is something of a regular venue for New Monsoon, with the band appearing there at least once a year, Miller said.
Between eclectic musical style and extensive improvisation, New Monsoon’s live shows are known to contain a lot of variety. That spontaneity is a big part of the band’s show, Miller said.
“It’s a unique experience, every set list is different,” the guitarist said. “We do try to create a flow, take the crowd on a ride, and just open ourselves up to the possibility of the moment. Everybody’s good enough that we can turn on a dime and change direction and go to places that we don’t even anticipate.”
“We’re going to experiment a little bit. It’s going to have the classic signature New Monsoon things where there’s some real soaring rock ’n’ roll and intricate arrangements and three part harmony vocals.”